The soaring marble columns at One Commerce Square provided an inspiring venue for Memphis District’s change of command July 12. Col. Vernie L. Reichling Jr. turned over leadership of the district to Col. Jeffery A. Anderson at the event attended by employees, retirees, family members, partners, stakeholders and others. Deputy District Commander Lt. Col. Dave Patton acted as the master of ceremonies.
Maj. Gen. John W. Peabody, Commander of USACE’s Mississippi Valley Division, presided over the change of command.
Speaking of Col. Reichling’s time in command of the District, General Peabody said, “He’s a hands-on leader, he inspires people … he loves being a Soldier. He enjoys the respect and admiration of everyone who knows him, especially the professionals here in the Memphis District.
“What I think about Vernie most of all is his consistent and almost laser-like determination and focus on doing the right thing, regardless of whatever political or personal consequences might follow. “
In recognition of his many contributions, General Peabody presented Col. Reichling with the Legion of Merit medal at the ceremony. In the accompanying citation, signed by Chief of Engineers Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, Col. Reichling was recognized for “… his exceptionally meritorious service to the Army and the Nation, spanning a 26-year career while serving in positions of increasing responsibility culminating with his assignment as Commander, Memphis District, United States Army Corps of Engineers.” Col. Reichling also received the Silver de Fleury medal from the Army Engineer Regiment.
Maj. Gen. Peabody additionally presented Col. Reichling’s wife, Julie, with the Army Engineer Regiment’s Essayons Award for her exceptionally meritorious service as an Engineer Regimental spouse
from Sept. 29, 1987, to July 12, 2013.
In his farewell remarks at the ceremony Col. Reichling thanked the many people who he said contributed to his success as an Army officer. He especially singled out his parents, wife Julie and other family members. He went on to talk about a sign he remembered being posted at his alma mater, the Virginia Military Institute. “The sign read, ‘you may be whatever you resolve to be’,” he told the audience. “And I’ve lived that. I have lived the dream.”
His advice to incoming District Commander Col. Jeffery Anderson was simple and direct. “Take care of your people, get the mission done and don’t screw it up,” he said to the laughter of everyone there.
He concluded his remarks with an old Irish blessing that he said was especially meaningful for him. “May the road rise to meet you, may the wind always be at your back, may the sun shine warmful on your face, and the rains fall soft on your field. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.”
To close the ceremony, incoming District Commander Col. Jeffery Anderson said he and his family were very excited about the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.
“The mission of this district is incredibly important to this geographic region and the Nation,” he said. “It is a mission that’s designed for people who want to work on something that is actually bigger than themselves.”
The ceremony concluded with a reception hosted by the Castle Club to welcome the Anderson family and bid farewell to the Reichling family.